Sometimes thinking rationally about a fear just doesn’t work. Some worries or fears are repetitive — it’s the same thing(s) over and over again. And it’s not like you (or your child) are trying to focus on these things. The thoughts or images just flood your mind when you are trying to do just about anything else. That is why we call this type of thought “intrusive”.
As if worrying all the time wasn’t bad enough, the OCD sufferer feels compelled to do little tricks to make the anxiety seem more manageable. These tricks might be repetitive rituals, superstitions acts, or mental rehearsals. So called “compulsions” could actually be just about anything and may seem a little absurd or even embarrassing to you. Some of the common compulsions involve repeating actions, rearranging things, confessing, cleaning or washing. It is also common to attempt to reassure oneself constantly or seek repeated reassurance from a loved one.
You probably have been told your anxiety is not logical. Or maybe you are engaging in lengthy, daily reassuring conversations with your child — but getting nowhere. You (or your child) may even know full well that the thing that has eaten up all of your time and peace of mind is nonsense. When this is the case, thinking more rationally is simply not going to work ( as you probably already know). So what now?
The best approach for dealing with OCD is called E/RP, or Exposure and Response Prevention. In a nutshell, what needs to be done to tame that wild beast that is OCD is to face your fear. If this sounds easier said than done, I can help.
CBT for OCD using E/RP (I know it’s a lot of letters) will equip you with the tools to regain control of your life. You will start by getting mad (hasn’t OCD made you suffer long enough?) Then you (or your child) begin to identify which rituals or mental compulsions to eliminate first while practicing to ride the wave of anxiety. Before long you will realize you can handle more fear than you gave yourself credit for, and the stronger you get, the weaker OCD becomes. You will learn to spot all the different ways your fear or worry is bothering you and what you can do to taunt and tease OCD into submission. Before long you will be looking for opportunities to do battle, diving head-first into your pool of fear. Don’t worry, I will be there to show you how and we will practice together in session. Then you will create a plan of something that feels manageable to you to practice each day until our next session.